Can anyone stop Van Gerwen? 5 talking points ahead of the PDC World Championship

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The PDC World Championship starts at Alexandra Palace on Friday.

Michael Van Gerwen is in action on the opening night as he attempts to defend his title for the first time.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the talking points from the tournament.

Can Van Gerwen go back-to-back?

Who could shock Van Gerwen?

Gerwyn Price is in fine form
Gerwyn Price is in fine form (John Walton/PA)

Will Barney go out with a bang?

Raymond Van Barneveld will retire from darts after his campaign at Ally Pally comes to an end. The 52-year-old Dutchman is a five-time world champion, but has struggled to live up to those heights in recent years. Looking at his draw, he is unlikely to enjoy a fairytale finish. If he gets past Darin Young, up-and-coming compatriot Jeffrey De Zwaan is waiting in round two, where he crashed out last year, with Cross, Wright and Dave Chisnall also in his section.

Suzuki or Sherrock to spring a shock?

With Lisa Ashton and Anastasia Dobromyslova failing to qualify for Ally Pally this time, Mikuru Suzuki and Fallon Sherrock will make their debuts at Alexandra Palace. Japan’s Suzuki showed she has the potential to upset James Richardson with her displays in the Grand Slam of Darts last month, but England’s Sherrock faces a tough test against the emerging Ted Evetts.

Will anyone hit two nine-darters?

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